540: Base System
Title text: I once got to second base with a basketball player. She was so confused.
This comic is a pun on the baseball metaphor used to describe how far a date went regarding erotic actions. Many different versions of the baseball metaphor exist, with varying degrees of complexity.
The comic comes in two parts. In the first one, the strip along the top, Ponytail and Cueball discuss how Cueball's date went. When Cueball answers Ponytail's question with "second base", Ponytail asks what that means exactly. They fumble around with the definition in panel two, then Ponytail brings two more, very different, sports into the metaphor: American football (50 yard line) and bowling (ten-pin). What this could mean is up for debate, but it certainly sounds tricky, as Cueball says. Ponytail then brings up a third sport in her elaboration; her reference to "red flag" could mean anything, as many sports use flags, some of them red, for a variety of things.
However, if we were to try an translate Ponytails comment it could go along these lines:
This would mean that Ponytail was about to go down on another girl, while this girl had her menstruation. Many people would find this disgusting, explaining her reaction to Cueball's Sounds tricky reply.
The second part, the diagram, depicts a much more complex version of the baseball metaphor, where baseball terms and jargon are used to describe the many and varied things human beings like to do in the bedroom. Explanations have been separated by position. In order to understand the terms used, one may want to consult this picture:
 Out of play
Outside the foul line extending from either side of the diamond, the area is "out of play". Anyone who takes the ball out of this area has committed a foul, and as such breached one of the acceptable rules of sexual conduct in the metaphor.
- Anal sex is a pun on the term "foul ball", as the anus is where fecal matter collects. The position is placed just outside the foul line.
- Downloading Star Trek fanfiction and replacing Riker's name with your crush is a reference to Star Trek: The Next Generation. Riker, the First Officer of the Enterprise-D, is often a subject of sexual desire among the fandom, and so taking a piece of fanfiction (fan-written, noncanon stories written about a piece of fiction) and replacing Riker's name with that of your crush is an ultra-nerdy way of indicating that they are attractive - so ultra-nerdy, it's creepy.
- The binary (i.e. base 2) numbers are an ASCII representation of the characters "base 2". The base of a number system is the number of unique digits required to represent numbers in that system. Binary is therefore a "base 2" system. This seems to be a little nerd sniping: wasting the time of anyone familiar enough with computing to know how to decode it.
- "Your base" is a reference to the original "base" metaphor mixed with a reference to the Zero Wing All Your Base meme. It's possible that this being here is a stealth insult towards the reader - the reader's own base (himself) is "out of play" and thus undesirable.
The "outfield" is a group of players who are there to catch the ball if it goes away from the main play area (anything outside the upper curving line) and return it to play in a manner advantageous to their team. As they separated away from the main play area, the things in the outfield are often references to sexual behaviors that are "kinky" and "out there".
- 2outfielders1glove is a reference to the infamous 2girls1cup scatological site and associated meme.
- The Retrograde Wheelbarrow is a sex position, one referenced previously in 300: Facebook, making this a callback.
- Eye contact from Janeane Garofalo is a tie-in to the "eye contact" entry positioned near home base. It's possible that this is placed in the outfield because fantasizing about celebrities like Janeane Garofalo is a behavior that is often considered unusual, even though many people do it.
The infield is a series of catchers stationed immediately outside or just within the diamond, with the goal of receiving the ball from the outfield (or catching it themselves) and using it to tag any running opposing teammates to foil their attempts at moving to the next base on the diamond. Players within the diamond, such as the shortstop, will also be doing this as well - they often receive the ball from the infield. As such, the infield is still "out there", away from the "usual" sexual interactions in the diamond, but they are things you might pass upon the way.
- Napoleon's Forces is a cartography joke, one making a comment that all of this complicated positioning makes the image look like a map depicting military maneuvers - or possibly simply a visual gag meant to evoke the image of Napoleon's army marching through a land of sexual behaviors.
- Fursuits are anthropmorphic animal costumes worn by some members of the Furry Fandom, people who are fans of anthropomorphized (human-like) animals. Fursuiters are a small fraction of the entire fandom, but are sometimes used in sexual play.
- Fursuits (crotchless) are fursuits with no fabric or covering on the groin (crotch) of the wearer, and as such are specifically intended for sexual play. They are placed slightly further "out there" on the field due to this being more unusual, and across the orgasm line.
- Standing anywhere near Peaches is referring to the musician Peaches who is known for her heavy use of sexual imagery.
 The diamond
The "diamond" is the geometric pattern formed by the four bases - first, second, third, and home plate. After the ball is hit by the batter, and is in the air, players have a chance to move to the next base in line, from first, to second, to third, and finally to home plate (scoring only if they make it to home plate), only being removed from play if they are touched by a player carrying the ball in an attempt to move between bases. Thus there is a "progression" from one base to the next of sexual activity in the metaphor, until climax is achieved (getting to 'home plate' and 'scoring a point')
The entries in this section are ordered roughly from home plate to first, to second, to third, and then to home plate again, in the counterclockwise direction that the players move.
- Eye contact is placed just alongside the initial stage where the 'player' has just stepped off the home plate and is starting to move towards first. This is a deliberate setup for the 'thigh contact' pun later just before home plate (eye contact first, and then thigh contact later, when sex has begun).
- Passing notes refers to a common method of communication in the classroom in school, often used by students as a form of courtship. It is placed halfway between the start and first base - the point at which communication has begun.
- First base is kissing. This is one of the most common assigned meanings for what the 'first base' is in the baseball metaphor - as in, "getting to first base".
- The boring zone is the point between kissing and sexual teasing or activity - the point where intimacy has become normal but sexual behaviors have not been okayed yet. This is boring for many (stereotypical) males especially. It can also be the point at which a workup is attempted from kissing to gentle stroking and finally to the overt sexual teasing that is found by the time you have gotten to second base.
- Second base is licking or hands under the shirt. Overt sexual teasing, in an attempt to get the other person aroused.
- 'Hands on the pants' and 'hands in the pants' are two activities that happen in a very short distance of each other during an average sexual encounter. They are also separated by the 'orgasm line', indicating that teasing has stopped and actual sexual activity has begun.
- Third base is oral sex. Oral sex is often used to prepare or arouse another person in preparation for intercourse, although it can be performed until one or both climax. In older versions of the baseball metaphor, third base was "hands in the pants" instead, which has been moved to earlier on the line in this new, "modern" version - or at least, Randall's conception of it.
- The Virginity line, which is also named, in brackets, after the Maginot Line, a series of French fortifications that were thought to be impenetrable during the leadup to World War II. This line provides a direct "barrier" to the path between third base and a home run. The Maginot Line was thought to be completely impenetrable until it was bypassed by the German army during WW2 through the Ardennes forest, whereupon it was encircled and destroyed. Virginity is often seen as an impenetrable barrier, or an unwillingness, up until arousal and desire conspire to make it go away rapidly.
- Teens, naturally, having a propensity for hormone-driven sex, bypass the Virginity line with ease.
- Sharing root PWs (passwords) is placed very close to home plate. As a system administrator, the one thing you never, ever do is give anyone the root (core) password to a file system, because anyone with the password is able to get unlimited access to the system to do whatever they please. Sharing a root password with another person is a nerdy way of saying that you trust them on an intimate, deep level. In other words, it requires more trust than oral sex.
- Finally, there is home plate. In this diagram, it is unlabelled, but in all versions of the baseball metaphor, the home plate signifies sexual intercourse and climax. Scoring a "home run" with a sexual partner means you "took it all the way" and "scored a point".
 Within the diamond and the orgasm line
Inside the diamond, at the center of the mound, is the pitcher. Several odd positions are placed here in Randall's diagram.
- Dry humping is the activity of humping (thrusting against) a partner without one or both of them removing their clothes, in order to arouse or gain sexual satisfaction. The location is probably a combination of the fact that it lies somewhere between hands on/in the pants, is definitely not an activity that is considered "out there" (in the outfield), hasn't quite made it to 3rd base, but is still pretty close to home and crossing the virginity line.
- Using the scroll thingy on that one Apple mouse is presumably here because the small, rounded scroll button can be imagined to be a clitorus. See also 243
- The Orgasm Line, which passes through almost every other play field, seems to be a divider that runs throughout the entire map that separates teasing and arousing behavior from overt sexual behavior intended to pleasure others. Fursuits (arousing, to some) become crotchless fursuits (overtly a sexual tool) when they cross the orgasm line. Hands on the pants and hands in the pants are two related but different activities - hands on the pants is arousing, and hands in the pants is intended to pleasure others.
- [Cueball and Ponytail are talking; Ponytail is sitting on the back of a chair with her feet on the seat, and Cueball is sitting on the floor facing her.]
- Ponytail: So how far did you get with her?
- Cueball: Second base?
- Ponytail: Wait, which one is that? Below the waist, but... not under the clothes?
- Cueball: I think that's... shortstop?
- Ponytail: You should try crossing the pitcher's mound. Then down the 50-yard line, and right past her ten-pin.
- Cueball: Sounds tricky.
- Ponytail: Yeah. Last time I tried it, I got a red flag. If you know what I mean.
- Cueball: I really don't.
- [A diagram of a baseball diamond.]
- The "Base" Metaphor Explained
- [Bases and x points are marked, as well as dashed lines covering the field.]
- [Along the first base line is "Your Base".]
- [Slightly right of that is a binary base:
- 0110 0010 0110 0001
- 0111 0011 0110 0101
- 0010 0000 0011 0010] ("base 2" in ASCII)
- [First base: Kissing.]
- [Second base: Hands under the shirt and/or licking.]
- [Third base: Oral sex (formerly "hands in the pants").]
- [The following are x marks:
- Slightly right of home plate: Eye contact.
- Along the first base line: Passing notes.
- Slightly before first base: Downloading Star Trek fanfiction and replacing Riker's name with your Crush's.
- Right field: Eye contact from Janeane Garofalo.
- Between the pitcher and second base: Using the scroll thingy on that one Apple mouse.
- Near the shortstop: Dry humping.
- Left of second base: Fursuits.
- Farther left: Fursuits (crotchless).
- Just before home plate: Thigh contact.
- Beyond 3rd base, along the 3rd base line: Standing anywhere near Peaches.
- Foul of the third base line: Anal sex (fill in your own "Foul Ball" pun here.)
- Left outfield: 2outfielders1glove.
- Left outfield: Retrograde wheelbarrow.]
- [The following are dashed lines:
- A region along the line from first to second base: The Boring Zone.
- A line traveling across the second to third baseline, and towards home plate: The orgasm line. (Dry humping is on the "orgasm" side.)
- Between third base and home: "Virginity" (Maginot) line.]
- [Arrows pointing out various other features:
- An arrow crossing the "Virginity" line: Teens.
- An arrow nearer to home plate: Sharing root PWs.
- An arrow crossing the orgasm line in the outfield: Napoleon's forces.]